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Traffic volumes decrease, Finns are still heavy on the gas pedal

Published on 14.10.2022

The precarious economic situation, increasing remote work and Russian’s invasion of Ukraine have an impact on traffic volumes in Finland. The number of vehicles on the main roads and the number of freight trains decreased in July–September from the previous year. As a result of the closure of Russian airspace, the volume of air traffic was clearly lower than normal. The driving speed of Finnish road traffic has not changed significantly. The data are based on the July–September statistics of the Traffic Management Company Fintraffic.

“After the pandemic, the war in Ukraine is shaking up the Finnish transport system in many ways. The decrease of Russian border traffic and the closure of airspace have a negative impact on the number of international connections in Finland. In public transport, market-based routes are experiencing major profitability problems due to, for example, higher fuel prices. As private cars become more expensive, it is important to ensure that public transport services survive the crises. Increased utilisation of data can improve the functioning of the transport system and reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The traffic sector sees more wide-ranging opportunities in the utilisation of data, which also increases the demand for open data,” says Pertti Korhonen, CEO of Fintraffic.

Road traffic

The deteriorating economic situation, remote working and increased fuel costs were reflected in the number of vehicles in road traffic in July–September. The volumes of traffic on the main roads (trunk roads and regional highways) were clearly lower in July–September than in the same period last year. The year-on-year difference is nearly 4%. The volume of heavy traffic has decreased by approximately 5% and light vehicle traffic by nearly 4% since July–September 2021.

All in all, annual traffic volumes are more than 5% below pre-pandemic levels. The decrease in traffic volumes has been quite rare in Finland since 1996, as annual traffic on main roads has only decreased from the previous year in 2008, 2009 and 2020.

However, the increased fuel prices have not affected the average driving speeds, which were on the same level as in previous years. In July–September, the average speed of all vehicles on the main roads was around 93.2 km/h, of which the average speed of passenger cars and vans was 94.2 km/h and that of lorries and buses 82.9 km/h.

Railway traffic

The volume of commuter traffic has increased by more than 12% from the corresponding period last year. By contrast, the number of freight trains on the railways was decreasing. The number of freight trains on the network was approximately 6% lower than in the corresponding period of the previous year. In passenger transport, the number of long-distance trains fell by around 5%.

A great deal of track work was carried out during the summer, and this was particularly reflected in the punctuality of long-distance passenger trains.

“The past summer was characterised by a large amount of track work, which affected particularly the punctuality of long-distance traffic. There have been situations where the implementation of track works has not proceeded as planned, and these have appeared as unfortunate delays or cancellations to passengers. In addition, the punctuality has been affected by other disturbances, such as faults caused by the structures of the electric railway,” says Sanna Järvenpää, COO of Fintraffic´s Rail Traffic Management.

Air traffic

Sanctions against Russia are affecting Finnish air traffic and no major changes are expected towards the end of the year. Air traffic in Finland is almost a third less than in 2019. 

“To ensure safety, we offer air navigation services to all airlines in the areas under our responsibility in the Gulf of Finland, where traffic between Russia and Kaliningrad has become busier. Some Russian airlines pay for the route service they receive on flights between Russia and Kaliningrad, but we will be faced with some credit losses. For flights to Northern Finland, the rest of the year and the first half of next year look promising, which means that the appeal of Lapland has not decreased, to our satisfaction,” says Raine Luojus, Chief Executive Officer of Fintraffic´s Air Navigation Services.

Traffic data

Fintraffic's traffic data was retrieved through open interfaces approximately a billion times in July–September. The amount of shared data increased from the corresponding period of the previous year especially in rail traffic, where data is utilised in VR's customer service channels, for example.

Fintraffic offers traffic snapshots to consumers, companies and the media as well as open data for transport and logistics service operators and application developers, for example, for the purpose of developing various map services and for the use of navigators.